Imagine if your dentist were able to make a new tooth grow out of your jaw! This sci-fi vision might soon be within reach…
Imagine that, instead of replacing lost teeth with bridges and implants, your dentist would be able to make a new tooth grow out of your jaw! It sounds like science fiction, but the vision might not be out of reach.
A group of Japanese scientists have recently succeeded in making the first fully functional, bio-engineered organ ever – and it’s a tooth! The key to making these ‘real’ teeth is the use of stem cells. Stem cells are special because they have the potential to develop into different tissue and organs.
It has long been the dream of scientists to make stem cells grow into organs that can be transplanted into patients in need. Previously, researchers have succeeded in making different tissues out of just one kind of stem cell. In order to make fully functioning, three dimensional organs, more than one kind of stem cell would need to be combined.
In making the bio-engineered tooth, scientists figured out how to combine two different kinds of stem cells – stem cells developing into inner and outer surfaces and stem cells developing into blood vessels and other soft tissues. The two kinds of stem cells combined into a tooth germ which was then transplanted into the jaw of mice in place of recently extracted teeth.
Already after a couple of weeks, the new tooth erupted through the gum and after 49 days, it was fully erupted. The tooth was tested as to hardness and function and was found to be fully functional and up to the standard of natural teeth.
What this new discovery will mean for the dental profession and for regenerative therapy in general is still unclear and many questions need to be answered before the technology can be used on humans. So it might still be long before you can order your own bio-engineered tooth at the dentist.
Is obesity an infectious disease? British scientists have found that the presence of a certain oral bacteria is higher in women suffering from obesity.
A group of British scientists have asked – and possibly answered – this question through a study of 500 women. Around 60% of the women in the study suffered from clinical obesity. When examining saliva samples from the obese women and comparing them with samples from a control group of average weight women, scientists found that the presence of a certain species of oral bacteria – selenomonas noxia – was significantly higher in 98% of the overweight women.
The exact connection between the oral bacteria and obesity is still unclear. “It is uncertain whether people may become obese due to changes in the bacteria in their mouths or whether these changes occur as a result of obesity,” said Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation. “What impact changing the bacterial make up may have on helping to reduce obesity is certainly worth additional research.”
The oral bacteria, Selenomonas noxia, has previously been connected with gum disease and poor dental health. Scientists think it likely that this oral bacteria could serve as a biological indicator of a developing overweight condition. As possible connections between oral bacteria and obesity, it has also been speculated whether certain bacteria may have the ability to increase the appetite of individuals and make the body store up nourishment from food, causing a weight increase.
There has previously been found connections between oral health and other conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Obesity has also been identified as a risk factor in the development of oral disease.
There is a clear connection between obesity and oral health in the fact that food products with a high sugar content have the potential to cause both obesity and dental cavities. Whether there are further connections between the two conditions will be researched further.